Fresno County health officials said a dead bat discovered last Tuesday in downtown Fresno has tested positive for rabies.
The bat was found by public health staff near the corner of Van Ness and Merced avenues.
Tests results Saturday confirmed the bat was infected with rabies, which is a deadly illness. Humans become infected by a bite or scratch from an infected animal.
The infected bat found in Fresno is a reminder that wild mammals can carry rabies, and especially bats and skunks, the health department said.
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Dead, rabid bats have been found in past years in the central San Joaquin Valley and in downtown Fresno. In September 2006, the health department reported that a dead bat found on the Fulton Mall had tested positive for rabies. And in September 2011, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency reported a live bat found in the drive-thru of a pharmacy at J and Tulare streets in Tulare had tested positive for rabies.
People should not touch wild animals, whether they are dead or alive, Fresno County health officials said. Anyone who has a bite or scratch from a wild animal or an unprovoked bite or scratch from an unleashed and unfamiliar domesticated animal should see a doctor.
Bites or scratches from bats often go undetected, and direct contact with a bat, dead or alive, should be reported to a doctor, whether or not an obvious injury is noted, the health officials said. Individuals awaking in a room with a live or dead bat also should notify their health care provider.
Removal of dead or live bats should be handled by a local animal control agency, county health officials said.
Pet owners should make sure all cats and dogs are current in their vaccination against rabies.
For more information about rabies visit the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.